Welcome to my afternoon....
Presentation for customer - COMPLETE! The topic they requested at the center of the whole presentation - biofilms! Bah biofilms! But its done and, if I do say so myself, I think I accomplished quite a winner in the amount of time that I have. But, knowing my wonderful Chinese customers, they'll question everything that I say and then tell me that I should have had more. But the funny thing is that I know they'll still have appreciated everything I did do and want me back. Like Julie says, the Chinese are just very blunt in stating what they see as a fact. No emotion, no remorse, just what they see as the truth --- "you have gained weight", "your hair is longer", "your complexion is very bad", "your feet are big". Offensive? NO! Just Chinese fact.
And - the kicker is - I'm supposed to be working with them tomorrow and I'll probably be taking the train in closer to the middle of the city, but have they let me know yet what time they want me there or what line or where to meet. Nope. Welcome to China!
Since Obama is coming on the 12th, they've already started shutting things and slowing things down. Starting Monday - all traffic in the city, inside and out of the 5th Ring Road is odd and then even plate days. Everyone had to work this weekend because starting Friday everyone will have off for a number of days as they start to close factories down and restrict travel even more so that pollution and city crazy is under control when the president is here. Welcome to China!
This morning we did church and then went over to the expat neighborhood for lunch and shopping. Theres a new Mexican restaurant that opened up that is supposed to be endorsed or something by Rick Bayless so I had to try it... Pretty good for Chinese Mexican! Actually, awesome guac and chips!
Ah Jenny's! Another week of bagels and orange juice and peanut butter and celery. I think I can survive!
I've been wondering every time I come "why don't these people get into accidents with the way they drive?!" And today -- ACCIDENT! I actually saw one! The hilarious thing is that the front end is bashed up and they're raising the car onto the flat bed - and the driving is still perched at his steering wheel in his car!
And here's a reiteration of the crazy story that is China. There are these gorgeous apartment buildings. Rows and rows and blocks and blocks. You can look down the street and see building after building. They've been built for around 3 or 4 years. All nice and newly constructed.... And waiting for people to move in. All empty! All empty since they day they were built! From what I know they're all bought and ready to go, but because of the way things are here - they can't move in.... Go figure.
Sunday morning - such a blessing! The expat church they go to (you have to have a certain license or badge or whatever to go indicating that you're registered with the government - if you're Chinese you can't register to go there) was celebrating Adoption Sunday. Apparently its a worldwide thing? I don't know if the churches back home were observing it or not, I have a feeling some of the churches I know weren't, but they were calling it a global event. Being that this is China - I know a lot of the orphanages were local and not far from here so it put a different impact on, probably what we'd see in the states, as something international. Puts a different spin on things to know that you could take a bus to where so many of these orphans are.
They had a back table set up with all this literature and you could buy these gorgeous photo notecards and the proceeds would go towards orphan ministries. The same with baked goods - red velvet cupcakes :) and cinnamon rolls. Makes something naughty actually have a good cause!
The sermon this morning was from James 1 and 2. Of course, the "visit orphans and widows in their affliction" verses. And of course, tied in with the fact that we are also "adopted" as believers - that God chose us and claimed us as His and now we have a Father because He showed mercy and love to us while we were still unlovable.
But then they had a couple from the congregation give their testimony. They had adopted two Chinese boys a few years ago.
What I'm finding that I love about the community here in China is that whereas in my beloved Budapest, they're continually GIVING their faith. Here in China - these people are so clearly LIVING their faith! I'm not saying at all that they're not living it in Hungary but they definitely have a mindset of share share share and you walk away just inspired to do the same but not feeling like you know how at home because you go home to reality and you realize all the blech that you are.
But I'm finding more and more here that my brothers and sisters here are being broken and broken and are becoming more and more tender and more and more humble with who they are in Christ and its just naturally coming out in love for others. Not flat out faith sharing in words, but faith sharing in actions. And faith sharing among each other in encouragement that we're fallible and that we're messes and that God still loves us and uses us in spite of all the blech.
Today the couple who shared were just that. The wife talked about how she had friends who were all keen to adopt and she had two kids of her own and thought "nope - I'm good with things the way they are. I feel bad for them, but I'm not in a place to help right now". And then very slowly, little voice after little voice, God brought her to a place where someone shared a book with her on adoption which she read and she heard God saying "its not necessarily the doing, its the being willing to do - being broken enough to say - I don't have a desire or an ability to do it, but if God told me to do it, then I would" and then she thought "ok, maybe I'm open a few years down the line".
Long and short - God showed her a child through another friend who did some orphan work and she kind of heard in her head "this is your son" to which she replied "ha! No, I'm open but give me some time!" And then she heard in her head - you said you were willing, but now you've put the limit on me and said - I'm willing but when I want to. Its either obey me or don't obey me - its not your timing, its mine.
She ended up going to her husband with this thing that was on her heart and kind of put it in his hands. He said he figured she was either crazy or Jesus was speaking to her. And if she was crazy she would be acting selfishly but this was a completely unselfish thing to do so he had to believe that it may be Jesus speaking to her, so he better be open to listening if that was the case.
They prayed, they started a process, and then right before they were supposed to have their final home study, God put on her heart that in the picture with "her son" there was another boy and that he had been in the same foster home for some time. She was like "really? I'm willing to do one, but two?!" And then she thought - giving this one to my husband as well. And so she brought it to him and he thought - I don't think I feel good about breaking up a family but I need to pray about this. They talked to the orphanage and they were told that if they wanted both boys they had to indicate it before the home study was done otherwise it would be another 6 months. So they took the week that they had and prayed and on the day before the final day, the husband had said, I need to go out and just really pray about this.
He said that he was praying about taking this boy and he had pretty much decided that they probably should and he was crossing a street, and all of a sudden it hit him... HE was that orphan. That one in need. That one that had scars and baggage and that God took him without hesitation and that this was something that God might be using in His life to perfect that faith that he had in HIS Father and show that love and acceptance to someone else. He said - its something that he always KNEW, but for some reason, as he crossed that road it hit him and he FELT it. He FELT what it was to be a child that a Father reached down and chose and took and a child that now had a family that he never would have had outside of that choosing. And he more than knew, he was convicted that this was what they HAD to do. And there in the middle of the street he just broke down and cried because he felt not only the conviction that they should take this boy, but he felt like the boy because he understood the acceptance of a Father.
And then to make the whole scenario more beautiful.
The wife was talking about how she had basically told God, ok, I'll do this, but it means that I'll have 4 children and that you're going to have to equip me to do this. And so she went into it thinking she was going to have some God-given power to be super mom and to be wise and gentle and handle everything that was handed to her. But then, she got into it, and she felt like she was drowning. And she was yelling. And she was not being the loving, wonderful mother that she had planned to be and so she went to God and basically said - I thought we had a deal! I thought you would give me what I needed to do this job well!
And then she heard God saying that he had never signed that agreement :) That He didn't promise to make her super mom and didn't promise to give her all the answers or make her the wonderful person that she wanted to be - but that he was there for her in her blech. That when she had those moments, she could sit with Him and she could rest in Him and she could learn from Him that in spite of all that blech, He was there using her and taking her imperfect and out of that imperfect was showing Himself. And the more imperfect and the more blech that she had - the more He could show Himself.
Bam - thats what I LOVE about China! I love the community here that talks openly about their imperfect, blech and then points back to their God and who He is and how He still loves and accepts them for that blech. And they try to work through that blech by understanding what they're seeing themselves as instead of seeing what God sees them as. And then they go out and they pay that love forward by bringing a meal to someone or speaking kindness to someone who wouldn't normally hear it - or adopting a child who probably wouldn't have a chance without them. Its this really loud faith that says, the reason we have the faith we do is because we know that we don't deserve it and yet we were given it by a God who loves that we have blech, and wants to make us better, but doesn't expect us to do it and doesn't even hold it against us when we mess it up. He's just there, loving us, helping us baby-step through life with the love He gives us and the love that He lets us share because of Him.
Its this really deep, seeping passion that I've felt here in the past and am especially feeling AND SEEING this time! I respect them! I am amazed by them! I pray for them! I am inspired by them to share that same passion in the small baby stepping way that God enables me to when I go home.
Well - its the end of another day and I was just given puszis by two adorable boys :) and now I'm waiting for my unadorable Chinese customers to actually let me know where and when tomorrow.... theres nothing like last minute! Grr....
Baby step Alison!..... Deep breath.... Baby step :)